Charles Barkley Reveals Why Ja Morant, not Zion Williamson is Rookie of Year

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 14: Ja Morant (L) of the Memphis Grizzlies and Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans shoot during warmups before a semifinal game of the 2019 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 14, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Charles Barkley has spoken!

The Memphis Grizzlies’ Ja Morant is the NBA’s Rookie of the Year and not New Orleans Pelicans standout, Zion Williamson.

“I want to say this about Zion Williamson: he is an amazing kid from a distance,” Charles Barkley told me this morning during the NCAA March Madness conference call.

“He’s been a great jolt of energy in the NBA, I hope he continues to do his thing, he’s been awesome, BUT if they screw Ja Morant out of this Rookie of the Year thing, I’m gonna be really pissed and I’m gonna blow a gasket on TNT.”

Morant is currently averaging 17.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 7 assists for an eight seeded Memphis Grizzlies team that is competing in a highly skilled NBA Western Conference.

Comparatively, Williamson is averaging 23.6 points and 6.8 assists for the New Orleans Pelicans who are currently a ninth place team in the NBA’s Western Conference.

Barkley is sticking with Morant for this season’s Rookie of the Year.

“For this kid to have the Memphis Grizzlies in the Playoffs, it was a great story in the NBA this year,” Barkley tells me.

HOUSTON, TEXAS – APRIL 04: Former NBA player and commentator Charles Barkley looks on prior to the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four National Championship game between the Villanova Wildcats and the North Carolina Tar Heels at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

“Not a single person on television picked the Memphis Grizzlies to make the Playoffs. Jaren Jackson Jr. has been terrific, Brandon Clarke has been terrific, but let me tell you something: Ja Morant is the run away Rookie of the Year. Love me some Zion, but if he’s able to get Memphis to the NBA Playoffs with the number eight seed; if he’s able to get those kids to the Playoffs, it will be one of the great stories. But like I said, I hope the NBA does not screw him out of the Rookie of the Year, we all love Zion, but he’s only probably going to play 35 games the rest of the season. But what Ja Morant has done this year for the Memphis Grizzlies, I hope they reward him with the Rookie of the Year. That’s my opinion.”

Barkley also recounts the first time that he met Morant. He admits that both he and fellow TNT analyst, Kenny Smith didn’t know who the heck Morant was. “We were in Milwaukee last year for the Playoffs,” said Barkley.

“And I was sitting beside Kenny [Smith], we were getting ready for the show. This little kid comes up and says: ‘Hey Mr. Barkley, Mr. Smith I just want to say hello.’ I said: ‘Hey man nice to meet you.’ And the kid walks away and Kenny says: ‘Hey who is that?’ And somebody says: ‘That’s Ja Morant.’ And I said: ‘What that little dude is Ja Morant?’ We could not believe how little that dude was and it was so awesome.”

The Grizzlies play the Orlando Magic tonight in Memphis. The Grizzlies will then hit the road where they’ll take on the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday and the Utah Jazz on Saturday.